Secondary school graduates should consider vocational school, General Department of Vocational Training director Duong Duc Lan told Thoi bao Kinh te Viet Nam (Viet Nam Economic Times)
What's your Department's plan for vocational school enrolments in 2014?
Viet Nam now has 65 vocational colleges, 306 secondary vocational training schools and 836 vocational centres. All these institutions have developed their enrolment plans for 2014.
But the training programmes this year are different from those in the past. They have been tailored to respond to market needs. We hope that by adopting this policy, students will be able to find jobs after graduation.
This year our department plans to recruit some 1.75 million students for vocational training, of which 200,000 will study at secondary vocational schools and colleges.
We know this target is not high, given that more recently the Ministry of Education adopted a new policy to help more students attend university.
However, to help students decide about what career they should pursue, the General Department of Vocational Training has published a book focusing on vocational training and student benefits if they decide to enrol in these vocational training facilities.
What are the barriers preventing students from enrolling in vocational schools?
There are various reasons. But the main one is misperception that "only university will help students find better jobs, while graduates from vocational schools will become manual workers."
This kind of thinking is outdated. For example, if vocational students complete a metal works course, they will have to learn how to operate metal machines, not manually as in the past, but using modern technology.
Our vocational training courses offer more than 450 career options, including cooking and hospitality, tailoring, resort management and others.
Another point I want to mention is our weak orientation programmes for vocational students. In developed countries, governments are involved in guiding students from the final year of secondary school.
Those who have achieved good results will advance to the A level and the remaining go to vocational training. If they want, after graduating from vocational colleges they may enrol in universities.
In our country, a Resolution adopted at the 2nd plenum of the Party Central Committee in 1998 already mentioned the need to advise students on whether they should continue studying or to go to vocational schools.
The document set the target that by 2020, about 30 per cent of secondary graduates will go to vocational schools. Right now the figure is a mere 3 per cent.
In my opinion, this is one of the reasons why many university graduates end up applying for vocational training: to find a new career path that will lead to a job. Further more, the salary of a technician in Viet Nam is the same as a university-educated engineer.
In reality, many enterprises have complained about the low quality performance of graduates from vocational schools/colleges. How can we improve their performance?
As far as I know, some enterprises have complained about the soft skills of vocational graduates, not their professional skills. I agree that many of them are not good at team work. But this weakness can be improved.
Regarding the businesses themselves, if they have a big demand for technicians, I suggest that they go and talk with vocational schools and colleges and discuss how they can co-operate in training students.
To support student enrolments this year, the General Department of Vocational Training plans to release a report on student intakes that each vocational school/college will have for 2015.
In addition, we will also plan to revise the Law on Vocational Training for junior secondary graduates. We propose that the students will be exempt from paying tuition fees, instead of 50 per cent as at present. — VNS